Venue: Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery (MPRG)
I knew about Andy Warhol before and could identify him with his work but not Roy Lichtenstein, even though when I started looking up his work I immediately recognised it. We had a digital art lesson just before attending the exhibition for Roy Lichtenstein so my head was in the right space. We had experimented with colours and creating the usual vivid colour blocks and strong lines associates with this style of art. Our difference was that it was all done on the computer.
After the exhibition I spent some time looking up Roy’s biography. It seems he had an interest in art from an early age, taking art classes as early as 14 years old. He went on after serving in the army to complete a Masters Degree and to teach on several universities as well as working in the graphic arts industry. This in addition to growing his own standing as one of the two most recognisable “Pop Artists” in the United States and overseas.
Roy had skills in painting and sculpture as well as various printing techniques so I liked doing some more research to have a look at what else he had done. Much of his fine art training comes through in his mix of commercial and traditional fine art from history. His prints are vivid and strong, they demanded my attention and were not just wall decorations.
I walked around the gallery taking in the various themes. The “Bulls” series inspired by Picasso where the theme of a recognisable bull is taken through a series of prints to the abstract expressionist style of simplifying the subject to a minimal amount of lines and colours. The various lithographs and works that combined several methods of traditional printing with collage and embossing were very striking especially where he had used metallic additions. I especially liked the “Entablatures Series” as they called on themes from ancient Greek and Roman architecture. I was reminded of the metopes of the Parthenon but with a modern twist with the inclusion of simplified images and metal surfaces.
I liked the “Brushstrokes” context which had lovely Asian influences and the prints were softened by the big splashes of colour looking like a huge brush had been played across the surface. Other works called on the cartooning style of the 1930s and later with a recognisable “Wonder Woman” in one work and “Sweet Pea” in another which was called “The Scream” harking back to the Bosch works of the same name.
The MPRG is a great gallery to visit, they have good lighting, the works are always easy to see and they have seating in the middle of the room so you can sit and enjoy the works for a while. They also had a video playing in the foyer with Roy (now deceased sadly) talking about his work and showing how some of it was done.
I spent over thirty years in Graphic Arts for the printing and advertising industry. I spent a lot of time in dark rooms, cutting ruby lith, burning metal plates etc so much of the processes were very familiar. Given the toxic nature of the chemicals in these processes I am not sorry that a lot of this work is now obsolete. Many of the designs can be achieved with a good computer and software now and we have access to large format printers that are continually improving their output for artists and the materials they print on are improving and varieties increasing all the time. Embossing and collages can be worked into these as well to get even more interesting results without the risk to health.
It is interesting to see someone who has combined both their graphic and fine art skills to come up with their own unique and lasting artworks. It makes the past years of my life feel even more worthwhile for my future endeavours.
A final Note:
One big thing as well, which was notable in the video, was the collaboration between the artist and a VERY GOOD Graphics/Print Company. As a final point I know from experience the importance of making sure that if you are collaborating in a project as Roy did, that you make sure that the company is up to the task and willing to work with you to achieve the best results. Not everyone is willing to take the time to do this and it can be very expensive so that needs to be worked into your plans.
By the way I made use of the visit to Mornington and dropped into the Oakhill Gallery near MPRG. The had a very nice photographic exhibition on which I recommend for both artists and photographers. I have also now joined the gallery as a member so that I can participate in future art exhibitions in the premises!